In 2019, 66% of people diagnosed with HIV in the U.S. had a suppressed viral load.
Viral suppression is when people living with HIV take HIV medication daily as prescribed and reduce the amount of HIV in their blood to a very low, or undetectable, level. People who achieve viral suppression can experience better health outcomes and have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their partners.
Viral Suppression and U=U
Viral suppression is the last step in the HIV care continuum. It is the foundational concept of Undetectable = Untransmittable (U = U), which means that once an individual is virally suppressed to the point where HIV cannot be detected in their blood, they effectively have no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to HIV-negative partners.
People living with HIV who achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load—in the U.S. it is considered less than 200 copies/mL of HIV in the blood—by taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) daily as prescribed cannot transmit the virus to others and experience better health outcomes.
At a community level, a high rate of viral suppression indicates a lower chance of HIV transmission among members of the community. This is often referred to as the “Treatment as prevention” strategy (TasP). A high rate of viral suppression can only be achieved by diagnosing individuals and engaging them in HIV care and treatment. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analysis shows that nearly 80% of new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2016 came from the nearly 40% of people who either did not know they had HIV or who received a diagnosis but were not receiving HIV care and treatment.
The HIV Care Continuum
The HIV care continuum is a public health model that outlines the stages of care that people living with HIV go through from diagnosis to achieving and maintaining viral suppression. Guiding an individual through the care continuum is key to helping them achieve viral suppression, which not only helps them experience better health outcomes but also reduces their risk of transmitting HIV to others.
The HIV care continuum is vital in assessing individual care outcomes and population-level progress towards ending the HIV epidemic. Data on the HIV care continuum helps determine if people living with HIV in a given community are engaged in each successive step and where they may be facing barriers and falling out of care. This helps policymakers and service providers better determine where resources and strategies are needed to support people living with HIV to achieve the goal of viral suppression and live long, healthy lives.
5 Ways to Use AIDSVu
View Local Statistics
National-, state-, county- and city-level profiles with HIV care continuum statistics.Learn More
Interactive maps on each step of the HIV care continuum at the state- and ZIP Code-level.Learn More
Infographics on each step of the HIV care continuum, as well as a set of infographics on viral suppression.Learn More
Stay up to date with the latest Q&As from experts on the HIV care continuum.Learn More
Use AIDSVu’s service locators to find HIV care services near you.Learn More
Continuum City Profiles
Explore AIDSVu’s profiles of states and cities with HIV care continuum data by clicking the city dots or states below. To explore HIV continuum data for the 48 counties prioritized for Phase 1 of Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America, a ten-year initiative to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S., visit our county-level profiles.
Learn From Experts
Read our series of Q&As with leading experts to learn more about the HIV care continuum.
June 15, 2020
Vu Q&A: Viral Suppression and the HIV ContinuumRead More
June 15, 2020
Vu Q&A: Jeffrey Crowley on the HIV Care ContinuumRead More
September 26, 2018
Vu Q&A: Dr. Carl Dieffenbach on U=U and the "Golden Age of Prevention"Read More
For More Information
Learn more about the HIV care continuum with these resources.
HIV.gov is the federal government’s leading source for information about HIV.Learn More
The Health Resources and Services Administration is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is the primary federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated or medically vulnerable.Learn More
CDC provides leadership for HIV prevention research and surveillance and the development and testing of effective biomedical interventions to reduce the rate of HIV infection in the U.S.Learn More
NASTAD is a leading non-partisan non-profit association that represents public health officials who administer HIV and hepatitis programs in the U.S. and around the world.Learn More
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS is the main advocate for accelerated, comprehensive and coordinated global action on the HIV/AIDS pandemic.Learn More